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The Isle of Bute to Inveraray

2 Days and 2 Ferries
Lovely Trip into Argyll via Ferry from Wemyss Bay to the stunning Isle of Bute on to Inveraray.
Wemyss Bay to Isle of Bute
1. Wemyss Bay to Isle of Bute
Our journey starts in the Renfrewshire town of Wemyss Bay. From here, frequent ferries operated by CalMac take you on a 35-minute trip across the Firth of Clyde to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. Before you hop on the ferry, take a look at the town’s atmospheric Victorian station. It’s part of the ferry terminal, so there’s no need to venture far.
Isle of Bute
2. Isle of Bute
Bute has much to offer, but the one place that makes this journey really memorable is Mount Stuart, the astounding Victorian gothic mansion with a tremendous Garden. Built by what at the time was one of the world’s richest families, it’s believed to be the first home in the world to have had a heated indoor swimming pool and the first in Scotland to have electricity. It’s flamboyant and fascinating. Treat yourself!

On the way to Mount Stuart pop in and see the Ascog Hall Fernery The most outstanding feature of this three acre garden is the Victorian Fernery, a beautiful sunken structure fed by natural spring waters and housing many fern species, including a 1,000 year old Todea Barbara or King Fern.

Once you’ve sampled the delights of Bute, you need to head to the north-east of the island to catch the Calmac ferry from Rhubodach to Colintraive on Argyll’s Secret Coast.

Local's tip: Spend a penny in the Victorian toilets on Rothesay pier. They’re a feast of marble, ceramics and brass and all in working order.
Bute to Benmore
3. Bute to Benmore
The ferry crossing is a short hop, but get out of your car and have a look around. This stretch of water is known as the Kyles of Bute. The islands to the north of the ferry are the Burnt Islands – also known as ‘The Narrows’. This is Scottish scenery at its best. You aren’t so far from Glasgow, yet it feels like a million miles away.

The Kyles of Bute and Loch Fyne border Argyll’s Secret Coast, an unexplored part of Scotland that’s tucked away on the south-west tip of the Cowal Peninsula. Some lovely villages dot its shoreline, including Tighnabruaich, Kames and Colintraive where your ferry lands. The beautifully situated Colintraive Hotel is a great place to grab some food and a drink before heading on.

From Colintraive you head over towards Sandbank near Dunoon on to the B836 and then North on the A815 to Benmore Gardens. Visit Benmore Gardens and see the huge Redwoods.

Leaving Benmore continue north on the A815 through Strachur and St Catherine’s until you come to the T- junction with the A83. Turn left and follow the signs to Cairndow and Ardkinglas Woodland Garden. Enjoy the champion trees and the “mightiest conifer in Europe”. Wander along the new trail and search for the Gruffalo and other characters from the book by Julia Donaldson.

Head North to Inveraray Castle.

Locals Tip:At Cairndow there are various places to eat and drink before heading for Inveraray.
Inveraray Castle Gardens
4. Inveraray Castle Gardens
Inveraray Castle garden is well worth a visit, regardless of the time year. The daffodils around Easter cover the policies with various shades of yellow, replaced by the vibrant reds, pinks and whites of the rhododendrons and azaleas that the West Highlands are famous for, which flower in the garden from April until June.

During the month of May you can feast your eyes on the heavenly displays of bluebells in the private garden and explore the ancient woodland walks where these pretty little “fairy” flowers create a spectacular carpet of dramatic colour and delicate fragrance. The borders on each side of the central path, beyond the lawns, are known as the 'Flag-Borders' - the paths having been laid out in the shape of Scotland's National flag, the St. Andrew's Cross. These borders, outstanding in the spring with beautiful Prunus 'Ukon' and Prunus subhirtella, are underplanted with an interesting mixture of Rhododendrons, Eucrypyias, various shrubs and herbaceous plants, giving all year round interest.
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